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Joan, known as Johanna or Johan, was born in 1871, the daughter of schoolmaster Donald John MacLean and Helen Wood of Rubha Mor. Helen became island postmistress, and Johanna was sub postmistress between 1891 and her death in 1944. She worked as a dressmaker at the time of the 1901 census.
Johanna married John MacDonald of 1 Garrabost. In November 1911 she was acting as guardian of Jeannie MacLean who had previously attended Grimsay School, transferring to Berneray School.